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Subject: Anna Bolena
From: William Smith <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:William Smith <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sun, 23 Oct 2011 22:19:34 -0700

text/plain (30 lines)

Anna Bolena From the Met-A Good Show

These are rather belated comments on the Metropolitian Opera HD presentation of Donizetti's  Anna Bolena (Anne Boleyn) on October 15, 2011.  I have seen and heard this opera only once before, presented live by San Diego Opera in 1984 with Katia Ricciarelli  {Anna) Bruce Reed  (Percy) Robert Hale as Henry VIII, Susanne Marsee (Giovanna Seymour), Susan Quittmeyer (Smeaton) and conducted by Eve Queler.   Despite this excellent cast, I remember very little of it except the dramatic aria for Anna that ends the First Act (“Giudici per Anna”).  So I really did not know what to expect.  All in all, I was pleasantly surprised.  The opera was better than I had remembered and all the cast members were at least very good, with some outstanding.

 Anna Netrebko, who I have seen in several roles, both live and on HD broadcasts, lived up to her hype, effectively portraying the hapless queen and sang better than I thought she could in this role.  I loved her final moving aria when her fate has been sealed (Ai dolci guidami)  Stephen Costello has appeared twice now in San Diego in Romeo et Juliette and Faust (also the Italian tenor in Rosenkavalier), but I thought he was at his best as Percy.  (BTW, the real Percy was a Henry, not a Richard, and actually sat on the panel that convicted Anna of adultery even though he had once been engaged to her.)

Ildar Abdrazakov was fine as Henry VIII, at least on the HD broadcast.  I had read some comments that his voice was not powerful enough for the role, but one problem with HD broadcasts is that voices come through in amplified artificial sound, so they tend to sound all the same size.  So, my fellow opera lovers, HD broadcasts, while wonderful and cheap, are no substitute for the real thing.  I will say that Abdrazakov must need to get his face massaged after every performance since he clenched his jaw in a vicious scowl for the whole show.  I really liked Tamara Mumford as the poor minstrel Mark Smeaton.  She was convincingly love struck and looked convincingly tortured in her bloody outfit at the end.

All-in-all, with a good cast, this opera is well worth reviving from time-to-time.  Are we on the verge of another Bel Canto revival?  I would love to see Roberto Devereux again (saw it with Sills in the early 1970s) with a cast that could do justice to it.  We’ll see.


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